[Excerpt] After decades of suburban sprawl, a new report shows that more jobs — and better, higher-paying jobs — are flocking to our nation's cities, even as peripheral areas see their job base erode. Here in Connecticut, employment growth in dense city centers like New Haven and Hartford is once again driving our state's overall economic vitality.
The latest findings make it clear that our suburban towns are growing even more dependent on our downtowns for wages and revenues. This raises big questions about housing and transportation policies, and whether state and national priorities can evolve to reflect the major shift.
First, let's look at the facts: Since the recession, job growth in large downtown centers nationwide has far outpaced rates in peripheral suburban areas, according to a new report by the think tank City Observatory. This reverses the decades-long trend of job opportunities expanding in suburbs, but stagnating in city centers. Indeed, peripheral areas and many smaller towns have lost large numbers of jobs since 2007.
Our nonprofit, DataHaven, which collects and shares public information on Connecticut, finds that New Haven and Hartford are experiencing similar shifts: From 2007 to 2011, jobs in the 3-mile "urban core" around New Haven's city hall increased by 7 percent, while they declined by 5 percent in the surrounding suburban "ring" from 3 to 15 miles beyond that — stretching from Stratford to Cheshire and Wallingford to Madison. Hartford experienced a 4 percent increase in urban core jobs, while its suburban ring endured a 2 percent loss. Combined, these two urban cores gained 11,000 jobs from 2007 to 2011, even as their surrounding suburban rings experienced a net loss of nearly 18,000 jobs.